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Title: Exploring inequality in institutional marketing : access to higher education by marginalised communities
Authors: Ramrathan, Sathishah 
Issue Date: 2018
In South Africa widening participation in higher education is located within a transformation discourse that sought to change the demographics of the student population in public higher education institutions. Current literature on public higher education participation demographics suggests that the transformation agenda of increasing the participation of previously disadvantaged population groups have been met in terms of headcount. There are, however, concerns raised about equality of opportunity to access public higher education institutions, especially with regard to potential students from deep rural contexts and who have attended school education in impoverished communities. In attempting to address these concerns, higher education institutional marketing became one of the communication tools through which higher education studies were promoted across the country. Although, higher education institutional marketing at Universities of Technology has been well established within South Africa, the marketing recruitment strategy employed was largely intended for the urban and sub-urban contexts. This study focuses on this challenge within a social justice and equality discourse. The study, therefore, engages with the literature on higher education transformation, marketing, social justice, equity and equality to show the complexity of higher education institutional marketing and highlights the inequalities in current marketing strategies and practices that continues to disadvantage marginalised communities from accessing higher education studies. The primary aim of this study is to explore the inequalities in current higher education institutions’ marketing processes to recruit potential students from geographically marginalised communities, with a view to reducing these inequalities. The study explored the marketing strategies employed by a University of Technology to understand the experiences and concerns identified by learners and teachers of deep rural schools in accessing higher education.

The case study approach to methodology required a mixed method for the data collection from stakeholders (grade 12 learners and educators) of three secondary schools in three different deep rural contexts. A survey was conducted using a questionnaire to obtain information from grade 12 learners. In addition, the Life Orientation educators of these three

schools were interviewed. In order to obtain a holistic perspective of the institutional marketing efforts, current first year university students from deep rural contexts were interviewed to explore their experiences into higher education. The analysis of the data revealed that learners in deep rural contexts were aware of higher education studies, but the information received about accessing and studying at a higher education institution was inadequate to make informed decisions. The study also found that there was a mismatch between what was marketed by higher education institutions and the needs of the learners and the community. Furthermore, the needs and resources for the potential students from disadvantaged communities were identified. Therefore, a customised recruitment strategy is proposed with regard to the promotional materials and processes to encourage and support aspiring higher education students. The findings proposes a marketing strategy that is located within a social justice, equity and equality framework that aligns institutional marketing with the needs of the communities located in deep rural and impoverished contexts. In other words, a strategic community engagement action plan between the university and the department of education is suggested. The study, therefore, makes recommendations to higher education institutions about marketing strategies that would be relevant to a diverse target market, particularly to marginalised or rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal. In addition, the study makes recommendations to address inequalities in institutional marketing that could lead to views about substantive equality needed for higher education transformation within the current South African context.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctorate in philosophy: management sciences specialising in Marketing, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2018.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Management Sciences)

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